Don’t be shy! A guide for house purchasersHelen Jaidy
We have all done it, there is that moment when you step into a house and think “this is the one”. It’s that perfect mix of location, price and size that makes this house the one that you want. But there is an awful lot that happens between that first buzz and picking up the keys.
Despite that emotional connection, taking a step back and really looking at what you are buying is essential. The Title of this article is “don’t be shy” and that should be your guide. Visit the property as many times as you need to ensure that the property is right for you. Let’s look at what you should be looking for.
Surveys are very important. There are three types of survey: a valuation (normally carried out by a Lender), a homebuyers survey and a building survey. A valuation merely ascertains the current value of the Property and is undertaken by your Lender; a homebuyers survey is a non-intrusive but comprehensive inspection of the property that highlights potential issues and provides advice on future works and repairs; and a building survey is an intrusive survey that looks at the structure of the building. It can be tempting to look at the cost of the more extensive surveys and rely on the Lenders valuation. However, especially during the pandemic, some Lenders have been using remote desktop valuations that involve no physical inspection of the property. The cost of a more comprehensive survey should be seen as an investment: serious issues can be brought to light and price reductions can be negotiated for extensive works that are required. A homebuyers or building survey can also provide a guide for future repairs and works that will be needed over time.
Gas and Electrical Reports
It is not mandatory for Sellers to provide up to date gas and electrical reports for a property and whilst it has been suggested that the Government legislate for this, there are no current proposals to do so. It may not be mandatory but always ask your solicitor to check if the seller is prepared to have these reports carried out. The boiler and the electrics at the property are essential and repairs can be costly. Any repairs highlighted by the report could either be carried out prior to exchange or a price reduction could be agreed to cover the costs.
Outside the Property
Taking a good look at the outside of the Property is also vital. Take a note of any changes to the building and highlight these to your solicitor. Often sellers fail to include information about historical alterations as they were carried out before their ownership so any additional information you can provide will also be welcomed by your solicitor. Your solicitor can then check if the works were carried out with the appropriate consents.
The fenced boundaries are also important so take a copy of the legal plan supplied by your solicitor with you to the property and check that the fenced or walled boundary matches the plan. Does the Seller use any additional land, is the property accessed via ginnel or small passageway at the rear? You can discuss any issues you found in your inspection with your solicitor.
During the pandemic skilled tradesman were busier than ever and sometimes those small repair jobs that would be routinely carried out by a seller have been ignored. Before you exchange contracts have a final inspection: check that the showers are all running correctly, the water pressure is adequate, and that the radiators, electrical sockets and lights are all working. Ask for the heating to be switched on before you arrive so that you can check the boiler is working correctly. Sometimes when large furniture is removed, damage can occur so make sure the plasterwork and skirting boards have not been removed or damaged. If you have concerns following your final inspection raise them with your solicitor who can make appropriate enquiries on your behalf.
A house purchase is a marathon not a sprint and the aim for you and your solicitor should be to try and ensure that the feeling you had when you viewed the property the first time is matched when you walk in as the owner. As for the unpacking, there is no advice we can provide there other than to get stuck in.